For Jordan Hirsch, current president of the GI Research Foundation Associates Board, his connection to the organization’s mission couldn’t be more personal. “In 2016, I was studying civil engineering at Marquette, in Milwaukee,” says Hirsch. “Then, I developed stomach pain, and received the difficult diagnosis that I had Crohn’s disease. My priorities shifted overnight, and I switched majors to biomedical engineering. I felt fortunate that I was in a position to do something about it, with regard to my education and career.”

Chicago-based Hirsch now works in sales and commercialization for Bay-area tech start-up Clip Health, which makes diagnostic tests which conduct laboratory-quality assays via assistive Bluetooth technology used with consumer smartphones. This technology could be harnessed to help those with digestive diseases more consistently monitor inflammation and other health data over time.

“I’m immensely fortunate that while I have Crohn’s, I don’t experience many of the common symptoms associated with the disease and wouldn’t have even known I had it were it not for serious complications in the run up to my diagnosis. In some ways it is a blessing and a curse, because while I don’t really feel discomfort on a daily basis, I also don’t know when things are going poorly, making it difficult to take proactive measures to improve my GI health when things aren’t 100% on the inside.” explains Hirsch.

Hirsch, 26, became involved with the GI Research Foundation through his physician, Dejan Micic, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago Digestive Diseases Center, who encouraged him to join the Associates Board. Now in remission, Hirsch hopes to help contribute to greater understanding of digestive diseases and a holistic understanding of the body. In particular, he is interested in the role that diet may play in exacerbating inflammatory conditions.

Says Hirsch, I’m passionate about making sure people are aware of all the options that they have to improve their GI health.”

The Associates Board’s next event will be a fundraiser at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel in Chicago, on September 23, 2022. A brand-new concept for the Associates Board, the program will feature a full complement of perspectives on digestive diseases from invited presenters, community leaders, and sponsors.

“When I was diagnosed at 20, it was very challenging for me, and I felt like I wanted to not feel helpless about living with Crohn’s disease, and to improve GI health in general. I wanted to be proactive. My involvement with GIRF is fundamentally a desire to be a part of, and contribute to, moving the needle for digestive health,” explains Hirsch.